IWC-CTI

Campaign Updates

POSITION PAPER: PROTECTING THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL WORKERS

January 24, 2021

Position Paper submitted to the Committee on Labour and the Economyas part of the consultations on Bill n . 59, Act to Modernize the Occupational Health and Safety Regime

This document was prepared by the Coalition Against Precarious Work, created in 2012 by organizations and associations working with precarious workers, particularly migrants, immigrants and racialized workers.

Coalition members welcome the willingness to “modernize” the occupational health-and-safety regime, an initiative that is all the more important as the crisis at COVID- 19 amplifies the shortcomings of the present regime. However, the draft bill remains too limited, in our view, in affording protect to workers, particularly those who are non- unionized or atypically employed. We deplore the fact that organizations representing non- unionized workers, with certain exceptions, were not invited to participate in the consultation process.


This brief begins by presenting some of the issues in the reform of the OHSA and the LATMP that are of particular concern to workers of recent immigration background. To this are three other issues of major importance to all workers.


The second section presents our proposals for the reform.


This brief concludes with testimonies from workers about their work experiences.

Warehouse Workers Commission Report and Launch

An evening of food, culture and testimonials

Saturday, November 23, 2019, 4 pm – 6 pm

Immigrant Workers Centre, 4755 Ave Van Horne Suite 110, Montréal

https://www.facebook.com/events/2678167875566768/
 

The Immigrant Workers Centre would like to invite you to participate in the launch of our report which was based on a two-year investigation on the conditions faced by warehouse workers in Montreal. There will be an event on Saturday, November 23rd at 4 pm. This event will feature the testimonial of temporary agency workers in warehouses that are active in organizing, because of the conditions they face; from low-wages, job insecurity, health and safety, and for status. The event will also be a chance to celebrate and come together with cultural performances and a community dinner provided by the Guinean community.

 

This was a project that was led by a core group of 5 temporary agency workers, who conducted group interviews and surveys with 50 workers in Montreal warehouses and distribution centres which have become “the new factories” in Montreal. As e-commerce and just in time distribution plays a crucial role in neoliberalism from the rise of Amazon, and other retail giants focusing more on online sales. Warehouse workers become critical in the economy. These workers as highlighted in the report are mainly temporary agency workers without job security, without access to basic rights, and are often racialized workers from Africa, Haiti, the Philippines, Egypt and other places.

 

The report itself is not just an opportunity to discuss the conditions faced by these workers but a chance to come together in solidarity to find ways to organize for justice for these warehouse workers to defend their basic labour rights.

Placement Agency Organizing at the IWC in 2018-2019

Over the past year, ATTAP has had three main priorities. Here, we will provide an overview of organizing activity which has taken place to advance those priorities.

 

Over the past year, the Immigrant Workers Centre has continued its efforts to organize workers who are employed via placement agency. The main organizing body that does this work is the Association des travailleuses-eurs temporaires et d’agences de placement (ATTAP), a branch of the IWC.


 Reform of the Labor Standards Act


This year, the amendment to the Labor Standards Act, Law 176, was adopted on June 12, 2018. The main reforms that concern us are those regarding the supervision of employment agencies and the conditions of temporary foreign workers. While the law has been passed, the regulations—which will stipulate how it is enforced—are still pending. During the consultation period, the IWC, alongside allied groups, organized two discussion meetings on Bill 176, and extended invitations to (im)migrant workers. Following these discussions, the ITC made proposals and presented a brief to the National Assembly Committee. The changes which occurred can be taken as a victory for us and our demands.


Since the adoption of the law, the IWC has been pursuing two types of activities:


1) Dissemination of information on new labor standards to (im)migrant workers;

2) Sending proposals for regulations to the Government.


Warehouse Work Survey


In October 2017, the IWC and ATTAP launched an research-action project based around working conditions in warehouses in the greater Montreal area. This project has multiple objectives:


1) Document working conditions in warehouses;

2) Formulate proposals for improving working conditions based on the experiences of workers;

3) Recruit warehouse workers to create a support network;

4) Create a network of solidarity aroundthese issues.


In this context, a commission of inquiry was created, composed of workers who are currently working or who worked in one or more warehouses, in collaboration with volunteers. The project is conducted in the following stages:


1) recruitment of participants;

2) semi-structured surveys and interviews;

3) data analysis;

4) publication of the results.


Thanks to a grant from the Beati Foundation, six workers participated in three training sessions and they recruited and interviewed nearly 50 others. Questions and discussions during interviews highlighted the working conditions in the warehouses. The final report will be published in November 2019 and will include recommendations to improve conditions for warehouse workers


Creation of the ATTAP Women’s Committee


A group of women from ATTAP organized a campaign to raise issues of sexual and psychological harassment in the workplace. The objectives of the campaign include bringing women workers, who face similar issues, together to discuss and evaluate their situations, as well as to create a workplace awareness campaign for people in similar situations, and to challenge these situations using laws and policies applied by CNESST. This campaign was prepared and launched in 2018-2019 and will be extended in 2019-2020.


Activities


Beyond these broad campaigns, ATTAP has also organized a series of specific activities. These include:


  • A demonstration in May 2018 against precarious work at the National Assembly in Quebec City
  • Continuation of the campaign of solidarity with Sandra Cordero against police brutality and political repression – Dinner / Projection in May, rallies at the courthouse and court with our allies.
  • March 2019- ATTAP presence at the 2019 international women’s march
  • Continuation of the awareness campaign on deportations to Guinea
  • June 2019-Ministry of Labor search against placement agencies- awareness campaign around Parc metro
  • Two ATTAP members, Lucy, and Sophie, whose cases have been followed for a long time, have received confirmation of the acceptance of their humanitarian requests.
  • Outreach at Parc-Ex to develop links with a group of Punjabi workers

“That was a kidnapping”: CBSA cuts fence to deport Lucy Granados with only the clothes on her back

Press Release

Lucy-detention_centre_bnner

Banner on fence of Laval Immigration Detention Centre in Laval, Québec.

 

Supporters call on Minister Hussen to Bring Lucy Home

 

Montreal, 16 April — Lucy Francineth Granados arrived in Guatemala late on April 13th with only the clothes on her back after a turbulent final morning in Canada. Prevented from removing Lucy from the Laval Immigration Detention Centre by around 50 community members forming a festive blockade, at around 8am CBSA officers cut their way through a fence behind the detention centre to assure her deportation at 9:15.

 

“That was a kidnapping, what they did with me. no one saw me leave. At the airport, no one checked my passport. It was unjust.” said Lucy. Lucy was forced to leave all her luggage behind.

 

“Lucy told us she caught a brief glimpse of the sit-in before officials smuggled her out the back. Surrounded by tense CBSA agents and police crying “vite, vite,” Lucy was frog-marched through snow to a CBSA vehicle waiting on a nearby road. Accompanied by many cars, she was brought to the airport, driven directly onto the tarmac and mounted the plane, which took off 15 minutes later,” said William Van Driel of Solidarity Across Borders.

 

“Lucy was accompanied by two CBSA agents and a doctor on the long journey. The doctor was a fig leaf to mask the fact that the government did not respect the recommendations of four doctors that she not be deported.  She arrived alive but traumatized and with her arm still partially immobile and numb from a CBSA-inflicted injury during her arrest three weeks earlier.” Van Driel added.

 

“The question we have to ask is why the government went to the incredible length of cutting a fence to sneak her out in the face of steadfast public opposition? Were they so bent on getting rid of this single mother to silence a campaign that has drawn public attention to CBSA abuse? Or is it the symbol she represents as a voice for the rights of undocumented migrants, a problem the Trudeau government seems determined not to address?” said Van Driel.

 

“We are calling on Minister Goodale to investigate CBSA abuse and violence in Lucy’s case. We are also demanding that Immigration Minister Hussen accept Lucy’s Humanitarian and Compassionate application immediately, so that she can return to her home and community,” said Viviana Medina, a community organiser with the Immigrant Workers Centre.

 

Lucy’s application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C) was submitted in September 2017. Her case meets the criteria and if the ministers had simply agreed to examine it before deporting her, it would have been accepted. However, it is very unusual for H&Cs to be accepted once the applicant is deported. If it is accepted, she would normally be able to return to Canada.

 

Lucy, a single mother and a community organizer for the rights of other undocumented women and temporary workers, lived in Montreal for nine years. Since her arrest on March 20th, Lucy received extensive support from across the country. This included visits to MPs across the country, hundreds of phone calls and emails to Minister Hussen’s offices, letters, articles, rallies, vigils, and an 8-day sit-in, as well as a petition with over 14 000 signatures.

 

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Supporters demand justice, proper medical attention for Lucy Granados, who faces deportation Friday, April 13, 2018

Press Release

Montreal, 11 April 2018 – Supporters of Lucy Francineth Granados demand recourse for rights violations as well as appropriate medical attention for the single mother of three, who is facing deportation to Guatemala on April 13th, after living in Montreal for nine years. On Monday, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) refused to grant an administrative stay of deportation to Lucy; on Tuesday, the agency opposed her motion to be heard by the Federal Court.

 

“How can we accept a society in which our neighbours are brutalized by the CBSA and then, when they object, rushed out of the country – with injuries inflicted by the CBSA unhealed? Where is the justice, where is the humanity if there is no way to hold the CBSA accountable for its actions towards migrants?” asked William Van Driel, a member of Solidarity Across Borders and a friend of Lucy’s.

 

“We have filed a human rights complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission on behalf of Lucy. We are appalled by the physical and psychological injury inflicted on her by the CBSA, the way that the advice of independent medical experts has been set aside and Lucy’s health treated with cavalier indifference while in CBSA custody. We believe that the CBSA has cruelly violated her human rights,” said Immigrant Workers Centre organizer Viviana Medina.

 

“The CHRC seems to be the only way Lucy can seek redress against the CBSA. However, legal experts tell us that people like Lucy with precarious status have been excluded in the past. It is also so limited that we were not able to include significant CBSA legal abuse, where a CBSA officer made a false representation to Lucy’s lawyer,” added Van Driel. “We are further concerned that the complaint will not proceed if Lucy is deported, as CBSA seems very intent on.”

 

“We have 48-hours to stop Lucy’s deportation and we must continue to fight, not only for this member of our community but for her children as well,” said Rehana Hashmi, initiator of the Mothers for Lucy Sit-in outside CBSA offices, which enters its 7th day today.

 

“So far Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have failed to show their humanity, or to acknowledge the widespread public support for Lucy, or even to carry out their legal duties by responding to Lucy’s application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. But I have hope they still will,” added Hashmi. Over 10,000 Canadians have signed a petition in support of the undocumented Montrealer, and public letters have been launched at several universities with signatures from hundreds of academics and students.

 

On Tuesday, Granados’ lawyers turned to the Federal Court in a bid to stop the federal government from deporting her and to force Immigration Minister Hussen to respond to Lucy’s application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds (filed in September 2017). However, the CBSA is asking that Lucy not even be heard by the court.

 

“We call upon the Canadian government to fulfill its human rights obligations and act on its stated promises to protect the health and well-being of migrants. Lucy’s story shows that the well-being of migrant women like Lucy is not a priority for the Canadian government, and that there is extremely limited legal recourse to challenge this.” added Medina.

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Immigrant Workers Centre iwc-cti.org Tél. 514 342 2111

Timeline: www.solidarityacrossborders.org/en/timeline

Let Lucy Stay Campaign page: https://bit.ly/2GrwsZk

Solidarity Across Borders solidaritesansfrontieres@gmail.com www.solidarityacrossborders.org  514-222-0205, 514 894 2455, 514-992-1662